Passion, above all, is a remedy against boredom. – Joseph Brodsky
(In last week’s column, I began the tale of how I met Mr. X. Here’s how things turned out.)
The next several weeks entailed lots of illicit sex in public places. And we had heated discussions about everything. Most importantly, he was stimulating. He made me feel something. He tested my boundaries and challenged my intellect. I guess we met at a time when I was bored, and X accessed that part of me that missed unpredictability, excitement, an element of danger and of course, the pompous intellectualism—stuff I associate with living in the city. I missed that. I very nearly craved it.
Aside from the excitement, there were issues. Major issues. Like, he hated his mother. That’s always a bad sign. He hated people. He hated himself. And he didn’t trust anyone. He never felt comfortable in social situations. He said he didn’t care about impressing anyone and he didn’t understand why people couldn’t just leave him alone, and yet, it seemed to me, he needed their attention.
The first time I told him I never wanted to see or hear from him again, the reaction was nihilistic. To him, this was unacceptable. The late night calls were nonstop, loud, angry and frightened my roommates. Don’t worry, I told them, they’ll stop eventually. But soon he began showing up at my favorite haunts, peering at me through windows, casting angry looks in my direction.
And for some inexplicable reason, he insisted on maintaining our friendship. The calls and emails were incessant. He was impossible to ignore.
Of course, there were other girls. Lots and lots of ‘em. Unsolicited, he would tell me about them all—sometimes pointing them out on the street. They were almost always exotic, dark, beautiful. Maui seemed to be an unending source of willing females for Mr. X to beguile and repulse, often simultaneously. Obviously I didn’t enjoy feeling like a number, although part of me enjoyed hearing about the details of his seductions.
We had long stopped having sex but after dates, he would come over, crawl into bed with me and just sleep, his arms wrapped tight around my body, his large frame taking up most of my small bed. Towards the end, there were times he would simply show up, unannounced, at my door.
On one of these nights, he’d come over and stripped naked in front of my mirror. Without the layers of clothing, the confident swagger, the playful sniggers, the overt intellectualism, Mr. X’s nude figure was surprisingly unsexy. His body was pasty white, fleshy and covered in freckles. Thick, reddish hair sprouted in random places. Meaty arms dangled next to an overlong torso indelibly marked by man-boobs and love handles.
After scrutinizing himself for a few minutes, he turned around to me, held his arms out in a quizzical shrug and laughed.
“Is THIS what girls like?” he asked. “THIS body? Really?”
He seemed to understand his power, this strange yet undeniable appeal to girls and he openly proved it, again and again. But I think their attraction depressed him, as much as it depressed me. I hated the idea that girls were weak; so deprived of affection, so needy and easily manipulated to the point that they would not just overlook major flaws in his character, his often demonic ego, but that they would also seek to feed it.
It also occurred to me that, not only was I one of these girls, but I was also just as bad as him. His ugliest traits were also my own—the insecurity, social ineptitude and negativity, the manipulation, dramatics, judgment and criticism of others were all weaknesses I battled with, and sometimes overcompensated for.
I hated Mr. X because Mr. X was the darkest and worst part of me.
And when I realized that, a sort of fog lifted. We spent one last night together, on his birthday. It was a good evening for us, uncharacteristically all sweetness and light. We sat at a bar while it seemed the world revolved around the bubble we made of our newfound acceptance. It was like some sort of epic closure.
At the end of the night, stumbling drunk and giggling like the most juvenile of delinquents, we urinated in a parking lot together—he held my pants off the ground for me while I squatted, and I helped him write initials on the pavement with his piss.
And then the next day, for my birthday, Mr. X gave me the greatest gift of all.
He moved to China.
Samantha Campos thinks there would be nothing finer than to be in Carolina in the morning. MTW